Woman Thought She Was Pregnant After Football-Sized Ovarian Cyst Grew
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A woman was convinced she was pregnant after mistaking an ovarian cyst for a growing baby bump.
Hollie Welham, 21, believed she was expecting after she started feeling nauseous and noticed her stomach ‘growing’ in January 2022.
The health care assistant, from Bridgwater, Somerset, said: “At first, I thought I was pregnant. All of the symptoms pointed towards it because my stomach was growing bigger each day like a bump."
The same month Hollie began experiencing symptoms like fatigue, nausea, and stomach cramps.
She also struggled to fit into some of her clothes and felt very bloated.
Hollie explained: "I thought it was from overdoing it at Christmas but when the bloating and pain got worse, I thought I might be pregnant.
"I took a few pregnancy tests, but everything came back negative.
"It was quite scary, and I had no idea what it could be or whether I was just going be like this now."
When all the tests came back negative, Hollie's symptoms continued to worsen - including severe cramps, bleeding, and back pain.
In February 2022, Hollie began experiencing irregular bleeding throughout the month and she booked an appointment with her GP to identify the cause of the issues.
Hollie claims the doctor felt a 'lumpy' in her stomach and referred her for an ultrasound scan. She said: "They offered a scan for five weeks' time, but I couldn't wait that long.
"My stomach was getting bigger each day and I was in so much pain."
In March 2022, doctors discovered that Hollie was not pregnant, but was in fact carrying a large cyst that was growing on her right ovary.
By the time Hollie got the diagnosis, she says her stomach felt 'solid' and it was continuing to bloat due to a buildup of fluid.
"At the first scan, it was measuring in at about 18cm big," she said. "I read anything over 10 cm is large for a cyst on your ovary and quite rare but they said it wasn't benign and not cancerous or anything to worry about.
"I can't believe how big I got - I looked like I was about to give birth, I had such a big 'bump'. I was in so much pain because it was a lot of extra weight to carry around."
While waiting for surgery to get the cyst removed, she watched as her stomach ‘grew and grew’ each day.
“I can’t believe how big my tummy got - I looked nine months gone.
"I couldn't fit into any jeans and even leggings felt too tight and painful on my stomach."
When Hollie had keyhole surgery in May 2022, the cyst had grown to a staggering 27cm, making it larger than a football.
A surgeon at Musgrove Hospital, Taunton, successfully removed the cyst along with Hollie’s right ovary and fallopian tube, with her stomach eventually shrinking back to its normal size.
“I was so uncomfortable, but I’m so pleased they spotted the cyst and managed to remove it,” she said.
Hollie has had the support of her boyfriend Isaac, 20, and her family during her recovery as she hopes to encourage other women to be aware of the signs and symptoms of ovarian cysts.
"They had to remove my ovary as well because the cysts had grown inside of it.
"It shouldn't affect my fertility - you can still have children with one ovary, it just might take longer.
"My stomach is still a bit sore and bloated but its massively reduced in size.
“I want to share my story to help other look out for the signs and symptoms. It was quite scary at the time but I'm recovering well now."
For more information on the symptoms and treatments for ovarian cysts, please visit the NHS website here.